Hundreds of young athletes took another step towards competing at the English Schools Cross Country Finals at the Northern Schools Inter Counties Cross Country Championships.
Having gone through Town, then County, stages, it was now time for the Inter-County Championships where teams from Northumberland, Durham, Cleveland, Cumbria and North Yorkshire battled it out for place in the finals at Liverpool next month.
As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the Durham team is a lot bigger this year as all nominees were selected for today, so we had plenty of young Harriers in action today, along with a few running for Cleveland as well.
This time hosted by Cumbria Schools, the setting was stunning, within the grounds of, and overlooked by the spectacular ruins of Lowther Castle. A rather gruelling circuit had been set out taking in the tree-lined gardens with a cruel hill climb at the end. We had plenty of our Juniors taking part, with several making their County debut.
There were no ‘Minor’ Boys from DHAC this year, so we’ll move straight on to the Junior Girls (Years 8/9)
We had three of our girls in action, Libby Hammond running for Cleveland, alongside Macy Kelly and Tori Buckley for Durham, with the top eight from each County being selected for their team that will go to the finals. Libby ran a cracking race, wearing the white vest of Cleveland.
At the end of the first lap she was the 6th Cleveland girl,so in a strong position. She pushed hard for the second lap and even managed to end the race with a sprint finish, the 5th Cleveland girl to cross the line, 58th overall, and a place in the finals.
Macy has gone from strength to strength this season, producing some really mature performances. Today she put in another great effort running for her County to finish 12th for Durham, 38th overall.
Tori was really looking forward to today, if only to get her hands on that exclusive purple hoodie! She worked her socks off around the 3.5k circuit, and pipped a few more places with a typical show of strength up the final hill climb. Tori was the 20th Durham girl to finish, 72nd overall, and like Libby, still in Year 8, so fantastic potential for next year!
We had a very impressive seven athletes running in the Junior Boys category (Years 8/9), with five of them still in Year 8, so massive potential here for next year! But Alex Boyer, one of those Year 8’s, didn’t want to wait till next year to get to the finals. So he did what he’s been doing all season and ran another incredible race, always looking strong, to finish 2nd for Durham and 8th overall.
Next up was James Wilcock (Year 9) who’s impressed us this season with a series of excellent runs. Today was another, where he maintained a good pace throughout and finished 6th for Durham and 23rd overall.
Just a few seconds behind was DHAC teammate, Dylan Wilson (Year 9). It was another impressive run from Dylan, and one that secured his place in the Durham team for the finals. He finished 7th for his County and 27th overall.
Another nine places and our next young Harrier crossed the line. Harry Lyons, another Year 8 athlete and our second from Cleveland. As usual, a strong performance from this young man, comfortably through to the finals as the 2nd Cleveland boy to finish, 36th overall.
Our next two boys finished within a few seconds of each other; Elwood Kelley and DHAC teammate, Louis Brett, both from Year 8. As always the boys put in a great effort , and it was Elwood who was next to complete the 3.8k course to finish 18th for Durham and 66th overall. Hot on his heels, Louis was just a few places behind finishing 19th for Durham and 69th overall.
Our final Harrier wearing his County colours again was Matthew Vest. He started the race well but unfortunately had to pull out suffering with a bad cough and struggling to breath. He was understandably disappointed but it was just one of those days where things were against you. Don’t worry, Matthew, there’s always next year!
Overall, a fantastic performance from our boys with four from the seven getting through to the finals, and like the girls, amazing potential for next year!
There were four of our girls competing in this age category (Year 10/11), all for Durham.
Up first we have Marissa Boon, who’s had a cracking cross country season with a string of excellent performances to her name. This was her debut in the purple vest and she certainly did herself proud, securing her place in the finals, finishing 2nd for Durham and 7th overall; a tremendous achievement as she’s still in Year 10.
Not far behind was DHAC teammate, Mia Wetherill. Also a Year 10 athlete, Mia put in one of her typically strong runs, gradually pipping of the opposition to take 6th place for Durham and 18th overall.
Next up we had Amy Atkinson (Year 11.) Just recently back in action for DHAC; it was great to see her doing her bit for Hummersknott and Durham County. A fantastic effort from Amy, the 15th Durham girl to cross the line, and 52nd overall.
And our 4th Inter girl was Emily Vest, another Year 10 athlete. A keen cross country runner she’s been a regular face for our Under 15’s this season. It was great to see her representing her County again and, as always, she gave it maximum effort to finish 21st for Durham and 68th overall.
Some top running from our Inter girls, well done to all!
There were four of our DHAC U17 boys running in this age category, for Year 10 and 11s, with all our boys in their final school year, and all from Hummersknott. It was a tough 5.4k course covering two full laps, plus an extra loop at the start, and another at the finish.
After a fabulous performance at the Northerns recently, John Russell was the first of our boys to cross the finish line, taking 1st place for Durham and 4th overall. There’s never much between John and his twin brother, Adam Russell, and that was the case again today. Less than a minute separated them as Adam came home 3rd for Durham and 10th overall. Next to finish was Tom Smith, a recent new member, who we’ve mentioned a few times this season.
Its great to see Tom doing well again with more maximum effort today; he finished up 12th for Durham and 25th overall.
Our final Inter boy today was Harry Wilson, a regular competitor for DHAC throughout his junior years. It was another excellent performance in his last run at this age group finishing 17th for Durham and 60th overall.
Great work lads, well done!
We had three of our DHAC girls running in the Senior category (Year 12/13), all for Durham.
Ellie Phillips has been a tremendous athlete for Darlington Harriers over the years, competing regularly both on and off the track, and has built up an impressive list of performances as long as your arm! Today she added another by finishing 5th for Durham and 17th overall. As she’s now in Year 13 this will be her last English Schools competition, so it’s only fitting that she’s through to the finals.
Next up we had Megan Noble; like Ellie, she’s another young athlete who’s been a regular competitor at DHAC all through her junior years. This is her first year as a Senior Girl here so was up against the older competition today. As usual, she performed admirably, finishing 10th for Durham and 34th overall.
Not far behind was Amelia Grayson, also in her first year at this age group. She’s been a great supporter of the Parkrun since her U13 days, but has more recently turned to cross country, in particular the NYSD series; and what a great job she’s doing! Today she finished just a few places behind Megan, taking 11th place for Durham and 27th overall. Terrific work girls, well done!
As last year’s Senior Champion, India Pentland was an automatic selection for this year’s Durham team. All this season she’s been building up her fitness levels after the prolonged illness, then injury, of last year. She’s not quite where she’d like to be yet so, at the end of this month, along with her coach, she’ll be deciding whether or not to compete at the finals. It would be a shame to miss out on defending her title, but we totally understand, it’s a tough decision to make. Whatever you decide, India, we wish you all the best.
There were two of our DHAC boys competing in the Senior category (Year 12/13), both of them in their first year of this age group, so up against older competition today.
The first of them to finish was Daniel Boyer, Alex’s big brother. Talent runs through the veins of this family, and Dan soon rattled through the tough 6.5k course consisting of three full laps with those extra loops at the start and finish. He booked his place in the finals for the second year running, finishing 4th for Durham and 19th overall.
It’s all change for Liam Brittle. Now in his first year of sixth form, he attends Teesside High School which comes under the Cleveland banner. So he changed the purple vest for the white this year, making his debut as a Cleveland athlete. And he did pretty well too, finishing 6th for his County and 46th overall – another Senior through to the finals.
So there we have it…..overall, an outstanding performance from our young Harriers, with some amazing results. This year we’ll have an impressive 13 athletes travelling to Liverpool on 14th March for the finals (10 for Durham and 3 for Cleveland.) Congratulations to those, and everyone who took part today.
Remember, many are still in the first year of their respective age groups so have massive potential for next year! Good luck to all those competing next month.
We will, of course, let you know how they get on! #UTH
A Fight For The Finals Photos courtesy of Simon Hannaford, Darren Fairclough and DHAC parents